Road Foodie

Some people drive simply to arrive.

Braised in Tears

Posted By on October 17, 2009

Stella wasted little time before corralling the Eskimo in the Poolhouse for swimming fun.

Stella wasted little time before corralling the Eskimo in the Poolhouse for swimming fun.

Brentwood, California

Twenty-four hours before arriving in Los Angeles I landed a book deal—welcome indeed, but brutal in its timeline. (Hey—be careful what you ask for, and when.) As soon as I calculated the number of recipes into the days remaining before deadline, unpacking the trusty, insect-flecked Toyota took a backseat to a trip to Costco. Multiple bulk bags of onions, gallons of organic chicken broth, and a gaggle of peeled garlic jostled with my cookbook box, non-cookbook book-box, and shoe bag (who has time to peel garlic?). Luckily, I have many wonderful and hungry friends in Los Angeles. I also have a mom who still loves to eat, even if the quantities are far less than they were in the days of First Class travel on the Italian Line (and the list of can’t-eats seems to grow daily). Plus, she has a nice new freezer which, in the past three weeks I have come close to filling with diminutive and laboriously labeled food containers. I am a little over two-thirds finished with the project.

Mom watches Stella and the Eskimo with guarded enthusiasm. I am unloading the car.

Mom watches Stella and the Eskimo with somewhat guarded enthusiasm. I am unloading the car.

The level of work-work has left little time for the relationship work I came here to tackle. But in the end, my work ethic (surprise, mom) has done more to endear me to this tough audience than any number of bedside heart-to-hearts. It is lucky that when one is braising, a little extra salt (in the form of tears) is a fine thing.

Being that I’m (lucky for you) too busy earning a crust to wax on eloquently about the food of Los Angeles, instead I’ll post a recipe which I was born to write, being that steak—and all meat, really—have been as mother’s milk to me (in the absence thereof). Just check the wildly enthusiastic comments on my Palm Restaurant Cookbook: at Amazon. I know from steak. And when life throws you a curve ball—in the form of unseasonably cold weather, a bank account the size of a pea, or a mother who views you as a creature from another planet—it’s time to drop a bundle on a great steak. And, lest you screw it up, here’s how to cook it.

Pan-Grilled Rib Steak with Blue Cheese Butter (aka Monster Steak)
Serves 2, and whoever else it is will be your slave for life; choose carefully

This technique gives a smoky, crusty result, very similar to grilling, but don’t even think of attempting it unless you have the right pan. It must be big enough to allow plenty of clearance around the steak, and it must be made of heavy-duty cast aluminum, or, in a pinch, cast iron. Otherwise, you’ll just burn this rather pricey piece of meat. Nonstick pan, you say? Sorry, can’t hear you…the high temperature will melt the coating, duh. If you don’t have a rack, use a small plate, placed upside down on top of a larger plate, to stop the steak from resting in its own juices.

* 10-inch cast aluminum or other very heavy-duty pan with stainless steel interior
* Cake rack or other small, flat rack

The Adventure Club:
* If your 401(K) is in better shape than 90% of everyone else’s, find yourself a dry-aged steak

1 (16-ounce) best-quality, bone-in rib steak, slightly over 1 inch thick, patted dry with paper towels
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 oz salted Irish butter
2 oz blue cheese
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rub the steak with the olive oil; then let stand, uncovered, at room temperature in a dog-free place, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours (inside the turned-off oven, for instance).
In a small bowl, combine the butter and blue cheese. Let stand until softened, about 30 minutes, then blend together with a fork.
Place a large, ovenproof sauté pan over high heat. Sprinkle one side of the steak generously with salt and pepper. When the pan is very hot, after about 4 minutes, place the steak in the pan with tongs, seasoned side down. Do not move or press down on it (this makes it important to get the placement in the pan right the first time—once it’s in, you’re not moving it until you are ready to turn). After 2 1/2 minutes, season the uppermost side of the steak generously with salt and pepper and turn over. Cook for 2 1/2 minutes more. Transfer the steak to a rack set over a plate, and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 and up to 60 minutes. I know this seems wrong. Trust me.

Thirty minutes before you plan to finish the steak, preheat the oven to 425F. Return the steak to the same pan in which it was seared, and finish cooking in the oven for 6 minutes for a warm red center (medium rare), or 8 minutes for a pink center (medium). Cooking to the well-done stage is not recommended.
Let rest for 5 minutes on the rack, uncovered and away from any drafts. Carve into thick slices and serve on hot plates, dolloping each portion with a big chunk of blue cheese butter. Flip a coin to decide who gets the bone.

Bone appetit.


One Response to “Braised in Tears”

  1. Love it. I think this is what they would like to be doing at Craftsteak and they always miss the mark. we did this in cast iron and it did rock.
    nice blog!

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